Appeared in The Bohemian Alien and Perpetual Magazine/ May 2008
“You have been in heaven, but all the mysteries had not yet been revealed to you, and you knew worthless ones, and these in the hardness of your hearts you have made known to the women, and through these mysteries women and men work much evil on earth.”
Say to them therefore: “You have no peace.”‘
Henri squinted as he gazed across the New Mexican desert. The El Capitan Mountain range stood holding back the light of a sinking sun. Henri tugged the brim of his hat down to help keep it’s dying rays out of his eyes. He would be heading that direction, all the way to the mountain peak.
Henri straightened his shoulders, adjusted the small bed roll on his back and took a swig from his canteen. He put one foot in front of the other. No one said he had to, but Henri felt walking the distance was important. He had to give in order to receive.
The signs were clear, the knowledge from his teachers, invaluable. If he did not falter and showed no fear, by tonight he would be in the presence of an Ascended Master.
He pictured his earthly master, Jean-Pierre, as he leaned over the Ouija board, his entire body quaking with realization.
“Mon Dieu, Henri!” Master Jean Pierre paled as he pushed his white hair away from his face. “He is not in the Arabian desert! The spirits tell me he is to be found in America! In New Mexico. Go to him! You know his name! If you speak it, he will do your bidding,” Master Jean Pierre’s eye’s fairly glowed with excitement. “He will make you powerful!”
Henri’s long strides kept him on a steady course.
Power, oui. How he needed, craved power! Many had scorned Master Jean-Pierre.
Others ridiculed his own writings and his descriptions of the strength and greatness of the Ascended Masters. Fools! To doubt their existence was clearly an act of insanity.
But tonight he would pledge his loyalty, his body and very soul to the god Samaqyazeel and all mocking would end.
An hour passed. Henri began his climb of El Capitan with legs heavy as lead.
All is well, all is well, he told himself. I must come to the end of myself. There must be nothing of me left and then the Master will rebuild.
He picked up one foot and put it down, then another, he was leaving his old life forever.
Henri! Come! It is time for church!
Henri looked about. The memory was so clear he half expected to see his father beckoning him to climb into the family car.
Church, he scoffed. There lay the weakness of all mankind. When his mother died, did God give her back? No. When his father’s business failed, did God give them money? Not at all.
“Those days are done!” he cried in the darkening woods. His breathing deepened. His legs felt on fire. The moon would rise soon and his way would be clear.
The ground beneath him slanted ever upward. “…Keep…keep…going…” he gasped.
Two more hours past and he kept climbing. The woods with its mountain side evergreens gave way to fields of skree, loose rock waiting to slide out from under him. Henri feared if he stumbled here the incline was so steep, it could be a fatal fall. He planted his feet and took another drink.
Breathing heavily he kept telling himself, “Almost there, almost there…” At last he stood below the summit and stared out across the vista. Brilliant stars throbbed overhead and through out the mountains coyotes began to howl. Far below, the foothills resembled a black, rolling sea.
Henri leaned heavily against the rock face and longed to lie down. Heart pounding, body exhausted, he was almost there. Henri closed his eyes. He could feel it now, the end of himself. A sense of holy dread fell over the area and Henri felt eyes upon him, watching, waiting.
From above, the sound of voices in a low steady, chant, filled him with fear and excitement. Others.
“Why shouldn’t there be others?” he whispered in the dark. “My god can call all of his people…yes…yes…Go. Go to them.”
He gave an exhausted chuckle as he started the climb. “Ah, Henri, you are speaking to yourself now, no? You are surely your own best company!”
Now that the sun was gone the air grew colder by the moment. Henri dug his fingers into the rock, balancing and hauling himself ever upward.
The sound of his father’s voice jarred him.
Henri! Come back! Come home, son!
Henri nearly lost his grip. Startled, he grabbed the rock face and glanced around.
“My father is not here…he is nowhere…” he whispered, pressing his cheek into the rock. “You are exhausted, Henri. There is rest at the top. You are almost there…”
His hands were starting to bleed, but he didn’t care. Those days were done.
A cruel voice from his childhood howled with laughter.
Henri! You dress like a pig!
He gritted his teeth and continued. “Of course I looked like a pig,” he muttered. “We had no money…” he gasped with effort, “…My father no longer cared…Ah! I will show you!”
With the determination of the damned, his body quaking with exertion, his heart thudding, Henri crawled and clawed his way to the summit. What he saw thrilled him.
In the midst of a small plateau, a fire blazed before a large flat, boulder. Circling the fire, were men. Some naked, some clothed in robes, others wore jeans and flannel shirts, all prostrated themselves as they uttered the name of their god, over and over.
“Samaqyazeel! Samaqyazeel! Samaqyazeel!”
The seekers of power! Henri’s face quickly dampened with tears of joy. These were his people. Truly he was home.
He tried to stand and walk to them, but his legs collapsed and he crashed to the ground.
I am too weak! Oh, Samaqyazeel! I am so tired!
His body aching with exhaustion, he dragged himself across the rocky surface.
A man from the circle, looked up, saw him, rose to his feet and called across the plateau. “Are you the Frenchman?”
Henri pushed himself to his knees, threw back his head and laughed. “Ah, oui, I am French! Forgive me, brothers. I am exhausted.”
There were cries of joy from around the circle and several of the men leapt up to help him.
“He will come now!”
“The blood of the Frenchman will bring him!”
“Now he will come!”
“He said that would draw him!”
Henri’s spiritual brothers surrounded him and lifted him up.
“My brother,” the first man said. “We mingle our blood and he will be here.”
They carried him to the rock, where Henri stood, dumbfounded as he watched each man step forward. The leader handed them an ornate dagger and each one sliced his arm and let his blood drip upon the rock alter then returned to his spot in the circle.
The leader took the dagger and handed it to Henri while around him the others chanted Samaqyazeel’s name.
“Share your blood.”
His stomach turned, but Henri was determined. If these gave blood, he would give more. Henri set his jaw and rolled up his sleeve.
The men’s voices beat the air like a drum. Dizzy with weariness, the sound alone made him woozy.
He took a deep breath and jammed the knife into his arm. The act was surprising painless. A mirthless smile spread his lips as he watched his own blood drip onto the stone.
As one voice, the men silenced themselves. The atmosphere became electrified, over head heat lightening danced through the sky, a blast of icy wind tore through him.
“Kneel and speak his name,” the leader said.
Henri melted to the ground and shouted, “SAMAQYAZEEL!”
A sudden boom of thunder shook the mountain top and in that second, the air thickened and split and out of the fire rose a beast like Henri never dreamed or imagined. A full fifteen feet high, a great, worm-like dragon came forward. Black, oily, scales covered its undulating body. Its head and snout were long like an alligator’s, its mouth held in a permanent death grimace that displayed rows of pointed teeth. Samaqyazeel opened his mouth and roared and Henri heard it as the roar of thunder.
He felt no comfort or joy in his presence, but a fear so encompassing all he could do was shut his eyes, scream the name of his god and pray the end came quickly.
Weeping, wishing he had strength to stand and run, Henri realized the plateau had once again grown quiet.
From above him, a voice said his name, “Henri Dubois?”
Slowly, Henri lifted his face. A man stood over him. Not just any man. He was tall and glowing. Snow white robes wrapped around his body. Long, yellow hair hung about his head and when Henri gazed into his eyes, he saw a deep and terrible intelligence, but also the nobility and compassion of a thousand, thousand lifetimes. This was his god.
“S-samaqyazeel?” he choked.
“Yes, Henri. I am here.”
For a few moments, Henri wept for joy. “I-I have longed for you. We knew…my master and I…we knew from the old writings…we knew you were still here…”
“I am pleased. I could sense you searching, so I called you. You have a great purpose before me tonight, Henri. Rise and answer your calling.”
Tears streaming down his face, Henri cried, “Yes, Lord! Yes!”
He jumped to his feet, but his exhaustion, the high altitude, and even higher emotions finally took their toll. Henri collapsed in a heap before his god.
The leader of the others gasped. “My Lord Samaqyazeel. He is so weak. What is his worth to us?”
Henri felt Samaqyazeel gather him in his arms and lift him easily, as if he were a sleeping child.
“‘What is his worth?’” Henri, half-aware, watched the star filled sky over head, his heart still awe-struck with the being who cradled him close as he walked.
“His calling is an act of love.” Gently, with all the tenderness of a caring father, Henri felt his beloved god laid him on the flat, raised boulder. Taking the dagger in both hands, Henri watched, puzzled as Samaqyazeel raised the knife over him. “It just so happens, I love French food.”
The knife plunged down into his belly. Henri’s eyes bulged open. As his world dimmed he heard Samyazeel call, “Faithful ones, join me in my feast!”
A cry of glee went up from his followers. And before Henri could pass from this life, the feast began.